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Hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks

Hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks | 14er Info, Map & Advice

Hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks is a great day hike in the San Juans. Class 2 peaks are not common in southern Colorado, so take advantage of the fantastic route on these two twin peaks. The best way for both hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks is the Northwest Ridge route from the Silver Creek Trailhead. Read below for my route description and map, weather forecasts, gear suggestions, and more. Safe travels on the trail!

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks: Fast Facts

TAKE CARE & STAY SAFE!

You are responsible for your own safety in the backcountry.

These peaks can be unpredictable and dangerous. Help is often hours or days away: your safety is primarily your responsibility. Prepare for your trek, understand your limits, be aware of the risks, and equip yourself with the necessary skills and gear. 

Hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks

Start from the Silver Creek Trailhead, which is reached via a rough road that may or may not be accessible for your vehicle. I would drive a 4WD vehicle here if possible. The trail starts out following a good forest path before it reaches the tree line. Continue along the left side of a beautiful creek with the Basin towering ahead of you and dramatic cliffs on your right.

As you near the headwall of the basin, your next goal is to reach and  take a right turn and head across the valley. The trail is well-maintained and clear to follow so navigation problems should be minimal.

Across the valley, you’ll find yourself looking up a slope. A series of switchbacks brings you to the ridge we’ll take to reach the summit. In spring and early summer, microspikes and trekking poles are helpful for snow.

Once up on the ridge, take a right and begin working your way up the ridge towards the summit ridge. There are several trouble spots where you have to move to the right to avoid difficult terrain on the ridge proper – don’t try to take shortcuts, and follow the signs that direct you to the right to take a series of switchbacks. This is the hardest section to navigate, so take your time.

You will pass a false summit before seeing the crux of the route left to reach the peak of Redcloud Peak. A large cornice lies along the way in the spring and early summer – avoid getting too close to the edge as they break without warning and you don’t want to deal with that.

At the summit of Redcloud Peak, stop to check the weather before you make the decision to continue to Sunlight Peak. Few, if any opportunities exist to bail out and descend if storms form, so take caution. 

The route over to Sunlight is relatively straightforward, with the trail moving along the right side of the ridge and passing over several saddles before rising up to the summit.

Once you reach the summit, enjoy the views of the San Juans in all directions. Enjoy some food and water but make sure you head down with time to reach the tree line before afternoon thunderstorms move. I hope you found my route guide helpful and informative. Safe travels on the trail, and good luck hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks.

My Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks Route Guide includes this topographical map to use along your hike. I recommend downloading this map on your phone or other digital device, and print out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics on your way to the summit.

Redcloud & Sunshine Peak Standard Route Guide

The link below takes you to the Mountain Forecast weather model for Redcloud Peak. It’s a good source for weather info at a high level.

Mountain Forecast Redcloud Peak

Below is a full weather forecast from the National Weather Service for the Redcloud and Sunshine Peak areas. It has a lot more detail than the above forecast. I recommend reading through it thoroughly before hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks.

This trailhead closes during the winter months and becomes inaccessible. Plan accordingly.

DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAILHEAD FROM LAKE CITY

Head south 2.5 miles on CO-149 S/Gunnison Ave toward 4th Street.
Turn right onto Co Rd 30 and continue for 12.2 miles. Follow the road right. From here it becomes a rough, rock-strewn 4WD road. Follow it 2 miles until you see the trailhead on your right, with restrooms on your left. Begin hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks from the eastern end of the parking area.

There are a few types of gear you will need while hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks if you want to increase your chance of a safe and successful ascent. Here’s what I recommend bringing with you for this fourteener.

Read all of my gear reviews and recommendations by clicking here.

Camping near Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks:

There are several campgrounds in the valley and dozens of great dispersed campsites along the road leading to the trailhead. Campgrounds include:

Lodging near Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks:

Your best bets for lodging are Lake City and Creede, Colorado, which are both within 45-90 minutes of the trailhead.

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Lake City, Creede, and the surrounding area, ideal for those hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peak.

Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks are located in a pristine wilderness area that faces an increasing number of visitors each year. Help preserve these peaks for future generations by following these Leave No Trace practices while hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks.

  • Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
  • Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
  • Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
  • Urinate off-trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
  • Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
  • Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.

Safe travels, and good luck hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

More Info Coming Soon.

Hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.

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Notice: The material presented in this route guide may not be comprehensive or precise and should not be solely relied upon when planning your climb. Inadequate experience, physical fitness, supplies, or equipment may result in injury or fatality.

The Next Summit and the author(s) of this hiking guide offer no guarantees, neither explicit nor implied, regarding the accuracy or dependability of the information provided.

By utilizing the information herein, you agree to indemnify and absolve The Next Summit and the hiking guide author(s) from any claims and demands against them, including any legal fees and expenses. 

3 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for the great article Alex! I am hoping to attempt this next Friday and just wanted to get your thoughts on CR 30. I will be coming from Lake City and it sounds like the last 3 or so miles of the road are the worst. I am not concerned about the shelf road aspect of the drive but I just want to make sure I can make it to the trailhead. Do you think it is a matter of having a good clearance vehicle or is a 4×4 definitely required? I plan to have a SUV but could look into renting an UTV in Lake City if needed? Just please let me know if you have time. Thank you!

    1. Hey Christopher, thanks for your comment and for checking out the blog. I did Redcloud/Sunshine last August in a Jeep Compass – and I was glad to have the 4-wheel drive, but it was not a particularly difficult road. There are a couple of short sections where you have to weave your way through some ruts, but any vehicle with high clearance and traction should be okay. There are lots of pull-offs, to allow cars to get around you, as a lot of the road is essentially single-lane.

      I wouldn’t bother renting a UTV, an SUV should get you there. I saw a sedan up there at the trailhead – but I definitely wouldn’t recommend it! Best of luck!

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Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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